For casino market server-based gambling still in the cards
High-tech slots must obtain a big shot in the arm with the beginning of Vegas' City-center later this year. Still, a lot of rewiring remains to be done.nby Daniel Terdiman February 3, 2009 12:01 PM PST nFollow @GreeterDan nIn summer time of 2005, the casino business was abuzz with excitement over what was then regarded as the next great thing--server-based gaming, a significant technological shift in how slot machines work. nEssentially, this development would make it possible for the machines to provide a wide variety of activities, all offered up from back-office sources, and chosen on the spot by players. This is a sea change from your conventional design, when a device had just one game built into it. Because of this, I wrote then, the technology was 'slated to be the largest news at (the September 2005) World wide Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas, the casino industry's huge annual trade show.' nFlash forward, however, for the November 2008 version of G2E, where a engineering panel entitled 'Server-based gaming: Beginning to begin' offered a stirring debate on the topic, and one which belied the intense optimism of four years ago. 'While it may possibly still be unclear when and how server-based gambling will be introduced widely across the market and for the consumer,' the panel's information stated, 'the question of if it'll is no longer.' nnLong regarded as another great thing in the casino business, server-based gambling might eventually get ready for primetime. These machines, from WMS Gaming, are enabled with the technology, allowing specific machines on a casino floor to down load new activities on the fly, as well as give the casino a way to offer participants promotions.n( Credit: WMS Gaming) nSo yes, the sector was jumping the gun with its 2005 excitement. And naturally, given that background, any new enthusiasm should be viewed via a somewhat suspicious contact. nBut today, industry executives say, the time is finally right for sever-based gaming, and the first signs of the technology--albeit a fresh kind of it that has been modified dramatically from what it was originally--may actually be coming. The following great thing may finally be here. nThat means a number of new slot machine-based innovations might be on their way. Included in this, said Rob Bone, the vice president of marketing for WMS Gaming, one of the casino industry's big-four manufacturers, is a community-gaming system that will allow multiple visitors to play games across some machines. And yet another, referred to as 'adaptive gaming,' is likely to make it possible for the machines to record a player's progress and allow them rejoin their game, even at a different place. nFor all the four companies, then, as part of a bigger server-based gambling movement the innovations that will come are various and wide-ranging. At its core today, however, the technology is about systems in which the machines can talk to databases on back-room servers, making it possible to get new data and information to a device at anytime, if not to alter the denomination of games on the fly to react to casino job numbers. nThe world's first all-server-based gaming floornAnd in case a new technology needed to be openly rolled out with a splash, the casino industry could not have opted for a much better method to formally introduce server-based gaming to the world: City-center, a huge, $8 thousand, shared MGM Mirage/Dubai World growth project now under construction on the Las Vegas Strip that involves thousands of rooms in hotels, luxury condominiums and football fields' worth of casino space. And the world's first all-server-based gambling ground. nThis start, which will include 2,000 machines, is slated for late 2009, and can, in the end these years, eventually lead the way for server-based gaming to get to be the new industry-standard. nBut what caused the delay? nAccording to business professionals, soon after the 2005 G2E, there clearly was a major philosophical change, when the major vendors--International Game Technology (IGT), WMS, Bally Technologies, and Aristocrat--came towards the conclusion, along side regulators, that in the place of each wanting to produce their own private types of the technology, they'd set their heads together and devise some new technology standards. n'In 2005, there were no requirements, and no protocols by which we could create assistance software,' said Javier Saenz, the vice-president of product management for community systems at IGT. Should you loved this short article and you would want to receive details about kasino bonus please visit our web site. 'We needed to produce standards, interfaces that worked, and some official engineering.' nAround that time, then, a brand new standards human anatomy emerged, the Gaming Standards Association (GSA), and what resulted were methods that would have the ability the casino employees to immediately pipe in communications to players--promotional messages, notices of free buffets and the like--in pop-up windows about the screens, regardless of which manufacturer's devices they were playing. Previously, it'd not have been possible. nFor organizations like IGT and WMS, this change in philosophy was nothing short of a significant retrenching, but one they felt they no option but to look at. n'Pretty much, IGT had to.abandon all previous development that leveraged old, amazing protocols,' Saenz said. 'It was a massive enterprise.' nInstead, he said, the four manufacturers have used what they call open networks, a new expression for server-based gambling constructed around methods made to provide casino employees the variety of new server-based technology they want, while also meeting the security and communications objectives of the GSA. nGetting the criteria set up was the initial step, naturally, and in accordance with Mark Lipparelli, a part of the Nevada Gaming Get a handle on Board--which manages casinos in that state--they were applied in November of 2005, just months after that year's G2E. nThe greater issue, then, was just how long it would take for the results of that standardization to manifest in industrywide roll-outs of server-based gaming. n'The widespread adoption and implementation of the protected network technologies,' Lipparelli said, 'will be more of market function.' Nothing unanticipated--at the time, at least--result of the philosophical change is that the industry's major companies came around, for the very first time, towards the understanding that their technology should be interoperable, in at least some fundamental ways. nBanking on consumer loyaltynThese times, a huge part of successful casino operations is best finding out how not merely to get a player to bring her or his money onto your floor, but also how to get that individual to join your loyalty program and come back to among your qualities again and again. nFor businesses like MGM/Mirage, for instance, that sort of customer acquisition and retention is critical, specially in a city like Vegas, where in fact the giant currently owns ten major properties--including Bellagio, the MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, The Luxor and others--and will soon open City Center. Making it feasible for its clients to play games and feel welcome and valued at all its casinos is simply about the most important thing MGM/Mirage or any of its competitors can-do. nAnd that's why, while an IGT unit however will not run games from Bally--at least not any time soon--the four manufacturers appear to have come around to the thought that their technology had to give the casino operators a lot more control within the messaging people would see on those machines. nAdditionally, Saenz said, the gaming machines will require to have the ability to access the casinos' databases of customer names and information, irrespective of who made the equipment, in order to serve up information that is personal to each user. nnA schematic of the server-based system from WMS Gaming.n( Credit: WMS Gaming) nBut even while big organizations like MGM/Mirage get in to server-based gaming, the adoption of such models is going to be slow. nAs of today, Bone said, WMS has about 1,500 server-based machines implemented around the globe. He thinks that casinos will start to roll-out server-based gambling on the 'bank by bank' schedule, meaning one portion of products at a period, instead of by replacing whole surfaces at once. nThat means, Bone said, the technology goes gain traction through the casino industry over the next 2-3 years. nIGT's Saenz agreed with that analysis. nAt the minute, he said, the company has five server-based gaming industry trials, two in Nevada and one each in California, Missouri, and Michigan. nLots of hosts, plenty of rewiringnOf course, the approaching City-center starting is going to be the major developing party IGT's--and the industry's--server-based gambling technology is waiting for. But while that launch will mean that up-to 2000 models seriously line at the same time, Saenz said that there are practical reasons why the technology will be slow to spread, nonetheless. nPart of the is because of infrastructure. To be able to roll out server-based activities, Saenz directed out, casinos have to have Ethernet networks deployed on the floors. That's something that several casinos have achieved thus far, he explained, adding that those who do have a much quicker road to the newest technology. n'Historically, there was an expectation that after server-based gaming arrived, (casinos) would magically rewire their entire floors,' Saenz said, 'and suddenly there would be server-based gaming. But that is perhaps not useful.' nThat is why he wants to find out roll-outs a hundred machines at a time through the industry, although not much faster than that. n'In a few years,' Saenz said, 'nearly all casinos will possess some server-based games, and (a few) will be completely' rolled-out.